The Presidential Panel on Police Reforms has agreed to the five-point demand of protesters against police brutality, which included halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of arrested citizens.
Other demands include justice for the victims of police brutality, including payment of compensation, and the psychological evaluation of policemen, including increasing their salaries.
Despite these concessions, including the dissolution of the rogue police squad, SARS, the protests yesterday spread to Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Ibadan in Oyo State, Akure in Ondo State, Owerri in Imo State, Ilorin in Kwara State, Enugu in Enugu State, and Yola in Adamawa State.
The protesters also sustained their campaign in Lagos and Abuja, where soldiers yesterday brutalised some of the youths, including the ARISE NEWS Channel crew.
But the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, set up a new outfit to replace the notorious SARS even as the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu set up N200 million fund to assist victims of police brutality.
The meeting with stakeholders was convened by Adamu following directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and immediate response to yearnings of citizens.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement issued yesterday said the meeting, organised by the office of IG and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), was a multi-stakeholders’ forum attended by leaders and representatives of civil society organisations in Nigeria, activists from the entertainment industry and the #ENDSARS movement and development partners.
Adesina said a communiqué signed by Adamu and Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, said the dissolution of SARS presents an opportunity to embark on comprehensive reforms aimed at repositioning the Nigerian Police Force as a modern, responsive and citizens-centred law enforcement organisation.
The communique said the proposed reforms would be anchored under the basis of the White Paper on the Report of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of SARS, which was jointly authored by the NHRC, the Federal Ministry of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Force.
It affirmed that reform proposals for the Police would be based on the constitution and existing legislations, such as; the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Nigeria Police Trust Fund Act, 2019, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 the Anti-Torture Act, 2017, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2010 amongst others.
The communique acknowledged and accepted the demands of the protesters: “Following the dissolution of SARS, the Forum calls for the following immediate steps to be taken in restoring public confidence and trust in the Police: An order by the Inspector-General of Police to all state commands to halt the use of force against protesters; unconditional release of arrested protesters and citizens; open communication and outreach to citizens to establish trust and confidence and a roadmap for the implementation of the White Paper of the Presidential Panel on the Reform of the SARS.
“The Forum welcomed the proposal to set up an Independent Investigation Panel to look into the violations of human rights by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Nigerian Police.
“The Forum agrees to the setting up of this independent panel by the National Human Rights Commission within the next week – an open call for memoranda from members of the public whose rights have been violated by the defunct SARS and other segments of the Police will be released by the commission within one week.
“The Forum recommends the psychological evaluation, training and retraining of disbanded SARS officials prior to re-deployment.
“The Forum resolves to set up the following technical sub-committees to design an implementation roadmap and work plan for the implementation of the White Paper: Training, Capacity and Re-orientation; Logistics: Infrastructure, Communications and Technology; Arrest, Detention, and Investigations; Regulations, Oversight and Accountability and Financing and Partnerships.’’
The communiqué stated that sub-committees would be supported by the National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations.
Adesina said the Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting that affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the #ENDSARS movement are genuine concerns and will be addressed by the government.